YIDFF 2007 International Competition
Potosi, the Journey
An Interview with Ron Havilio (Director)

My Work Must Be Personal

Q: What is the reason that you visited Bolivia again after 29 years?

RH: My first visit to Bolivia made a lifelong impression on me. Since then, I have always wanted to go again but I was too busy to do so. I found some time after I finished my last film Fragments Jerusalem so I decided to go. At first, I was going to go alone, but my second daughter wanted to go to South America, so I seized the chance, thinking that it would be a good time to spend together as a family.

Q: In the film, you and your family look for the people that you took pictures of 29 years ago. Why did you think of that?

RH: Since my last experience in Bolivia left such a strong impression on me, I ended up taking a lot of pictures. The reason why I looked for those people was because when I looked at those earlier pictures, there were so many things that I couldn’t figure out about them. I would have a picture of a funeral, but I would have no idea whose funeral it was. Let me give you an example. If you look in the stereoscope with one eye, everything looks flat and it is difficult to understand the depth perspective. When you look in with both eyes, you can finally see things three-dimensionally and understand the depth. Similarly, by looking at things both now and in the past, we are able to come to a truer understanding of modern-day Bolivia.

Q: You’ve said that this film for you is very personal. As you said before, it is about being a mirror reflecting various people’s experiences instead of just filming your own deepest struggles. I felt that this film is personal, yet extends its compatibility to people who are not a part of the film and beyond. I see it as a method of being personal for many people, by being a mirror. Is there anything that you keep in mind when you make a film like this?

RH: My works have to be personal. This is the core of my filmmaking. When I think deeply about my life, I see that I am an artist, a male, and I create these works out of what I see around me. This makes them very personal. It might sound like a contradiction, but the more personal the works, the more universal they become.

When I was raising money for the last film, I often received the criticism that “this film is about family, and only includes Israel. It might be interesting for the people who live here, but not for foreigners.” I think that is not the case. That film was screened here in Yamagata, and it also earned acclaim in Korea. Every person on earth has a life and a way of living. People naturally want to see how other people live. The way of life is basically the same wherever it may be. Therefore, the essence of filmmaking is to be personal. Wouldn’t people be able to understand each other when they see the similarities in the way of life and in the way of thinking?

Q: What is the chief thing that you wanted to communicate through this film?

RH: That is a very difficult and dangerous question. When I want to say one thing, then my perspective begins to quickly narrow. Life cannot be understood in a narrow perspective. Life is a tangled mess of everything, so I want my films to be the same way. In my films there may be things about my family, or about the Bolivian landscape that somebody will notice, things that even I have not noticed. I want that sort of thing to be valued.

(Compiled by Kimuro Shiho)

Interviewers: Kimuro Shiho, Yamamoto Shoko / Interpreter: Takahashi Aiko / Translator: Paul Mikaelsen
Photography: Yokoyama Sara / Video: Yokoyama Sara / 2007-10-08